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Presidential poll: Surprised opposition to meet on June 22

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New Delhi, June 19 : After the BJP on Monday named Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA’s presidential candidate, the opposition — taken by surprise — hesitated to question his credentials but said it will hold a meeting on June 22 to chalk out its strategy.

Opposition leaders have agreed to attend the June 22 meeting, to be chaired by Congress President Sonia Gandhi to take a final decision on the July 17 presidential election, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said here.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed surprise over the name and said that “in order to support someone, we must know the person”.

“Candidate should be someone who will be beneficial for the country. The opposition will meet on June 22 — only then we can announce our decision,” she said.

Sulking BJP ally Shiv Sena too indicated its unhappiness, saying it was not consulted on the candidate.

The nomination of Kovind, a Dalit leader, by the Bharatiya Janata Party appeared to have put the opposition in a quandary as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) said it cannot oppose the NDA candidate unless the opposition puts up a popular Dalit candidate.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar hailed Kovind’s role as state Governor but remained non-committal on supporting him.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury said Kovind “was chief of the RSS’s Dalit branch” and “somewhere it was a political fight or contest”.

Azad also accused the BJP of “unilateralism” but did not say whether or not the opposition will field a candidate for the July 17 contest.

“So far as the National Democratic Alliance nominee is concerned, the Congress has nothing to say on the merits or demerits. All the opposition parties had collectively decided on evolving a consensus on the Presidential candidate when leaders of 18 parties met,” Azad said.

“We had full hope that before announcing they will discuss some names. They did inform us but only after they had decided on the name,” he said and termed the outreach by the BJP as a “formality”.

Mayawati, in her remarks to the media, said: “We are not against Kovind’s nomination… As he is a Dalit, we can’t oppose his name, but only if the united opposition doesn’t announce a popular Dalit name.”

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut told media persons in Mumbai that BJP President Amit Shah called up Sena President Uddhav Thackeray after announcing Kovind’s name and sought his support.

Thackeray said he will call a Sena meeting before taking a final call. Thackeray told Shah on Sunday that the Sena will take a decision after the BJP announces the candidate.

Banerjee said senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani or Sushma Swaraj could have been made candidates.

“The President’s is a key post. Someone of the stature of Pranab Mukherjee, or even Sushma Swaraj or Advani-ji, may have been made the candidate,” she said.

Nitish Kumar called on Kovind in Patna and said he is “personally glad” over his candidature, but was non-commital on Janata Dal-United’s support to his candidature.

“Kovind has discharged his duties as Bihar Governor in an unbiased manner. He has worked as per the Constitution and upheld the dignity of the Governor’s post. His was an ideal relationship with the state government,” Nitish Kumar said.

As to whether the JD-U will support his candidature, Nitish Kumar said they will discuss the issue later and decide.

Sonia Gandhi had taken the initiative to forge a consensus on the opposition’s candidate for the presidential poll.

The opposition parties had formed a sub-committee to select a candidate but decided not to come up with a name till there was clarity about the choice of the ruling alliance.

Election

Karnataka Polls: BJP releases fourth list of 7 candidates

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New Delhi, April 23: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday released the fourth list of candidates for the upcoming crucial Karnataka Elections.

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ECI announces election date for Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh

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New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday announced the date for the biennial elections in Maharashtra and a by-poll in Andhra Pradesh.

The two elections will be held on May 21 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The Maharashtra election was necessitated as the term of six Legislative Council members will end on May 31 and June 21.

Anil Dattatrey Tatkare’s term from the Raigarh-cum-Ratnagiri-cum-Sindhudurg seat will end on May 31, while the terms of Jadhav Jaywantrao Pundlikrao from Nashik, Bhangdiya Mitesh Gotulal from Wardha-cum-Chandrapur-cum-Gadhchiroli, Abdullah Khan A. Latif Khan Durrani from Prabhani-cum-Hingoli, Pravin Ramchandraji Pote from Amravati and Deshmukh Dileeprao Dagdojirao from Osmanabad-cum-Latur-cum-Beed will expire on June 21, according to the ECI.

The by-election in Andhra Pradesh is being held as Gali Muddukrishnama Naidu from the Chittoor local authorities’ constituency died on February 7.

As per the ECI schedule, the date of issuance of notifications will be April 26 while the last date of nomination will be May 3.

The scrutiny of nominations will be on May 4 while the last date for withdrawal of candidature is May 7.

The ECI also said the elections will be completed by May 29.

IANS

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Karnataka BJP MP Sreeramulu contesting assembly polls

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Bengaluru, April 22 (IANS) BJP’s Lok Sabha lawmaker from Karnataka’s Ballari, B. Sreeramulu on Saturday filed nomination to contest in the May 12 assembly elections from Molakamuru (reserved) seat in Chitradurga district.

Sreeramulu, 47, filed the nomination in the presence of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the party’s Chief Ministerial candidate B.S. Yeddyurappa.

Molakamuru constituency is reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs).

As per his poll affidavit, Sreeramulu declared his income and assets, including that of his wife Bhagyalakshmi, to be valued at Rs 18.17 crore.

He has disclosed cash and bank deposits valued at over Rs 4.5 crore and other immovable assets including property and buildings worth over Rs 12 crore.

Sreeramulu was the Health and Family Welfare and Tourism Minister from 2008-2011 in the state’s first Bharatiya Janata Party government, but stepped down from the post and resigned from the party to protest the alleged ill-treatment by the party to then cabinet minister and Ballari mining baron G. Janardhan Reddy.

He had rejoined and contested the Lok Sabha election in 2014 as a BJP candidate from the rich mining district of Ballari.

After quitting the BJP in 2011, Sreeramulu floated a regional outfit Badava Shramika Raitha Congress (BSR Congress) and won four seats in the 2013 assembly polls, after which he quit his own party to rejoin BJP. However, his BSR Congress remains and is identified as a BJP ally in the state.

Sreeramulu is also one of the two MPs among the candidates announced so far by the BJP to contest the assembly elections, with the other being Yeddyurappa, A Lok Sabha member from Shivamogga.

In a related development, the opposition BJP’s sitting MLA from Molakamuru, S. Thippeswamy, has decided to contest from the constituency as an Independent after he was not re-nominated by the party and in protest against the selection of Sreeramulu, an outsider, from Ballari district.

Till Friday, the BJP has announced 213 candidates to contest the 224-member Karnataka assembly polls. The party had, in its second list of 82 candidates released on April 16, fielded G. Somashekar Reddy, younger brother of Janardhan Reddy, from Ballari City segment.

The third list released on Friday had includedAKarunakar Reddy, another of Reddy’s brothers, from Harapanahalli in Ballari.

OANS

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